Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

Of course, my bad!

“Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willnae be fooled again!”

Just now while working through this thread abut wiki

The iteration of wiki’s main page I happened to hit contained this stunner:

I had no idea the Canadians pulled the same sort of evil shit the Americans did.

That wasn’t very polite of them.

There can only be one thousand!

They can tak’ oour lives but they cannae tak’ oour troousers!

Ye’ll tak’ the high road an’ I’ll tak’ yer wallet!

So long’s ye nae tak’ me last sheep!

Huh. I grew up speaking Polish, and I’ve never noticed just how similar 9 and 10 are. Hah!

Hungarian it’s straightforward: 1-10 unique names. 11-19 is tizen- (“ten” with a linking syllable) + base number. Twenty gets its own word, húsz, which doesn’t look related to its word for “two”, két or kettő (but I couldn’t say for certain.) “Thirty”, harminc, is clearly based on the number three, három, but takes a different ending than the words for 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, which are just base number + van/ven.

Aha! Just the person I wanted to ask. I know not so much as a syllable of Polish, so forgive if I’m totally naive here.

I see people’s names (usually surnames) sometimes that appear to be Polish, and have the letter “z” is a position that seems unpronounceable to this American-English-speaking ear. In cases where I know the pronunciation, it seems that the “z” is silent. Or maybe it modifies the sound of surrounding letters?

One example in the news: Strzok, the FBI guy who figured in the Mueller investigation. Pronunciation is given as “Struck”. Another exampe: Drzonek, apparently pronounced “Dronek”. I’ve seen a few other examples too.

So, the question: In the original Polish, how is “z” in such positions pronounced? Is it correct that it is silent? Does it modify the sound of adjacent letters?

Ha! Not a Canadian, but I know about David Suziki: David Suzuki Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline (

In those cases, it’s really the digraph “rz” and is probably most closely approximated by the “zh” sound, you know, like the sound in the middle of “treasure.” So “Strzok” would be something like “schoke” (the trz combo there ends up sounding something like “ch” in English because you have a “t” + “rz”. And “t” + “zh” becomes “t”+“sh” because you can’t really have an unvoiced consonant followed immediately by a voiced one, so the second one becomes devoiced.

Drzonek would be something like “Joe-neck.”

The “o” sound really is /ɔ/ in IPA. So it’s not a diphthong like the long-O sound I am approximating it with. If you just do the first half of the O diphthong there, then you got it.

Here you can hear two pronunciations of the word drzewo (“wood”) which start with that drz- cluster. The first pronunciation is closer to the English “J” sound; the second one the speaker brings out the “r” and elongates the first three letters.

FWIW, it was common knowledge when “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die” first came out.

ETA: If that sounded smartassy, it wasn’t my intention.

The latter. I see pulykamell gave a more thorough response already, but as a summary:

Think of the unpronounced “z” as acting like “h” in English. When it appears after a “c” it modifies that sound (the “cz” combo in Polish is pronounced like “ch” in English) and exactly ditto for “z” after an “s” in Polish (again, it turns “sz” into a sound like an English “sh”).

Now, there’s also the straight-up letter “z” pronounced like in English, plus two variants (a dot over the letter, or a little slash, which alters the pronunciation into something like the final consonant in “garage”) and also the letter “z” is a standalone word in Polish, meaning “with” so … written Polish has a lotta Zs in it.

My late Other Shoe liked to remark that when I’d type emails to my mother in Polish, “it looks like a cat walked across the keyboard, and took a nap on the ‘Z’.”

In 1942, Peru rounded up 1,800 citizens of Japanese ancestry and deported then ti internment camps in the US. 400 more came from all the other Pacific-coast Latin nations.

After the war, the Japanese-Americans were allowed to be back home. The Japanese-Canadians had to relocate East of the Rockies or go “back” to Japan.

In Polish Scrabble, “z” and “w” are worth only 1 point. (“z” with a dot above it is 5 points; “z” with an (acute?) accent above it is 9 points.)

This may not be entirely true:

After being released from the camp in Utah, Korematsu had to move east since the law would not allow former internees to move back westward.

The claim that former detainees couldn’t live in the western states isn’t backed up by a cite, and is contradicted by George Takei’s experience:

At the end of World War II, after leaving Tule internment camp, Takei’s family were left without any bank accounts, home, or family business; this left them unable to find any housing, so they lived on Skid Row, Los Angeles for five years.

However, if true, it would have been consistent with Canada’s policy. And even if former internees were allowed complete freedom of movement after the war, Takei’s experience - having your family stripped of all of its prewar assets and having to start from scratch - was pretty common.

Recently learned tidbit (disturbing): The Saddam Hussein Dam in Iraq was built on a soft bed of gypsum and is likely to fail catastrophically at some point in the future, driving millions of refugees out of Mosul and Baghdad.

It was built against engineering advice in a poor location because nobody wanted to say ‘no’ to Saddam. Now it’s only sustained by continuously pumping fresh concrete into the subterranean erosion channels. If this work is interrupted, failure is only a matter of time. ISIS took the dam and held it in 2014; they could have just as easily have destroyed it if they felt spiteful.

There’s no direct risk to those of us residing a continent away from the site, but imagine the consequences of a million Iraqis suddenly unable to live in Baghdad or Mosul for quite some time. Doesn’t bode well for international peace or humanitarian concerns.

Tiger Woods was just in a bad traffic accident. He was driving a high-end Hyundai. I suppose he was paid to drive it, still they seem to be moving up in the world.

Benford’s law has fascinated me for years. I was just thuiking about it the other day, because an apparent contradiction started bothering me.

Benford’s Law holds for all bases, but the probabilities are different, of course. In base 10, the number 1 shows up a little over 30% of the time as the first digit. In base 3, not surprisingly, one shows up as the first digit about 2/3 of the time. In base 2, of course, one is always the first digit.

But the way Benford’s Law is used in detecting statistical anomalies (those court cases you refer to) is by showing that distributions of what ought to be the real distributions of first digits actually follows a more uniform pattern, with the first digits all showing up at the same rate, about 11% of the time. (Or possibly with some other distribution, but not matching Benford’s).

But imagine that you were in Computer Court, and worked only in binary. One is always the first digit, so this simple statistical test can’t be applied. But if I were to convert all the numbers into base 10, I can certainly look for and spot such anomalies.
But there’s nothing magical about base 10. The information that the distribution is skewed ought to exist in the binary forms of the numbers, as well. So how did that information get lost?

The answer is that it’s not just the first digits that are governed by Benford’s Law. There are derivable distributions for the first m digits. If you plot out the distribution of the first two nonzero digits in base 10, you get what looks like a higher resolution plot of the Benford probabilities for first digits. In base 2 the same sort of thing holds. If you look at the distribution not of the first digits, but ofg, say, the first four digits, you’ll see Benford patterns that will not be present if the numbers are chosen at random.

(The math for all this is given in the Wikipedia article on the Benford Probabilities)

While we’re talking about the Monkees, The Last Train To Clarksville was a reference to getting drafted for Vietnam. Maybe this obvious to young adults in that timeframe, but that was ahead of my time.

I always thought they were sort of a joke group, and not really to my taste, but they’re actually talented musicians who took on serious material at times.